1903: Teddy Roosevelt visits Carson
August 14, 2008
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States visited the Capital City on May 19, 1903. It was a “day of days.”
Roosevelt became president at the age of 42, having succeeded President William McKinley after his assassination in 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. He was the youngest person to become president. A progressive and a Republican, he was the first president to call for universal health care and national health insurance. As an outdoorsman, he promoted conservation.
A reception committee was assigned to make sure that all was right. An arch was constructed across Carson Street by the Mint. Orators near and far were practicing presentations. Carson City would not be outdone.
In the Carson Appeal, it was said the president would only be here an hour and would arrive by train at the station. A special carriage was prepared. Side streets from the station to the Capitol were roped to prevent teams from crossing the procession. People from around the state were to be here to see and hear the president. It was to be a grand day.
“The visit of the President has more weight to it than most people realize,” wrote the editor of the Appeal, H. R. Mighels. “The President, while not born in the west has adopted western modes that has put in more in touch with the west and her needs than any President that has ever occupied the chair. His actions and his talk have convinced the people, not alone of this state, but wherever he has traveled that he will assist on the adoption of irrigation measures that will be of a general benefit to the whole people.”
“During his brief visit, (the) President made one friend who will never forget him – the ladies. Especially the matron of the home was made to feel that she is the power of the Nation.”
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Here is part of the speech he made in Carson City:
Mr. Governor, Mr. May or, and you, my fellow-citizens : It has been a great pleasure to be introduced in the more than kind words the Governor has used, because the Governor has been a genuine pioneer. Here in this great western country, the country which it is what it is purely because the pioneers who came here had iron in their veins, because they were able to conquer plain and mountain, and to make the wilderness blossom, we are not to be excused if we do not see to it that the generation that comes after us is trained to have the sum of the fundamental qualities which enabled their fathers to succeed.
I want to say one special word today here in Carson City on a subject in which all of our people from the Atlantic to the Pacific take an interest, but which affects in especial the people of the States of the great plains and mountains and affects no State more than it does Nevada – the question of irrigation. Now as I say I do not regard that as in any way merely a question of the Rocky Mountain States, or of the great plains States, because anything which tends for the well-being of any portion of the Union is therefore for the well-being of all of it, and it was for that reason that I felt warranted in appealing to the people of the seaboard States on the Atlantic, to the people of the States of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley, to say it was their duty to help in bringing about a scheme of national irrigation, because the interest of any part of this country is the interest of all of it; and not man is a really good American who fails to grasp that fact …
… As I said of the forests so it is even more true of the water supply. It should be our constant policy by National and State legislation to see that the water is used for the benefit of the occupants of the soil, of those who till and use the soil, that it is not exploited by any one man or set of men in his or their interests as against the interests of those on the land who are to use it. It is a fundamental truth that the prosperity of any people is simply another term for the prosperity of the home makers among that people. Our entire policy in irrigation, in forestry, in handling the public lands, should be in recognition of that truth, to favor in every way the man who wishes to take up a given area of soil and thereon to build a home in which he will rear his children as useful citizens of the State.
Viewed for his soundness of purpose and businesslike approach, Teddy Roosevelt won the hearts and minds of Nevadans.
“His visit was not only a good thing for this one city, but for the entire State, as the words carry sound business sense and tingle with Americanism,” wrote Mighels.